Spider at sunset. Alberta, Canada. August 2012.
Yesterday afternoon I spoke on the phone with a dear friend back in Utah. We caught up on the goings on in our lives as we hadn't spoken in over a month. She is one of those friends that, no matter how much time has passed, we can pick right back up where we left off. I love that about our friendship.
Anyway. We got talking about our futures and our dreams and our plans and what makes us happy (it was a deep conversation for a Monday afternoon). She has always dreamed of hiking the entirety of the Pacific Coast Trail, from Canada to Mexico. Over 2,600 miles. And I know she will do it. Her desire to dream big and to take a chance to do the things that make her happy got me thinking about my own life. We have a wonderful life here in Boston. We really do. But it isn't the life that we want to be living.
On Sunday night my husband and I curled up on the couch to watch a Real Sports episode after putting Alice to bed. There was a touching story about Steve Gleason, the New Orleans Saints player who, two years ago, was diagnosed with ALS.
He was 33 years old when he was diagnosed.
I am 33 years old.
I am not trying to be melodramatic nor do I think my life will be cut short by illness but the idea that this young and healthy football player was diagnosed with such a debilitating disease at my age really resonated with me. He now lives his life in a wheelchair, requiring full-time help from his wife and a multitude of caregivers to do even the most basic daily tasks. But he is still so positive. When he was diagnosed, he said this to his wife:
I promise to smile and laugh and cry and love with every breath that remains in my body.
My point is this: I do not want to live my life with regrets. No matter how long or short it is, I want to look back on my life and be happy with the choices that I have made. With the choices we have made as a family.
My husband and I often talk about what is important to us in life. What always comes up as most important is not how much money we make or things we acquire. Although important and necessary, those things aren't at the top of our list. What is important to us is living in a place that we love. Living somewhere we feel fits our lifestyle. Living closer to family and friends. Having our kid(s) see their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins more than once a year. We are fortunate enough to have some control over where we live but that means possible role changes for me or my husband. Me working full-time. Lee staying home with our kid(s). Making those big decisions can be scary. But I don't want to wake up twenty years from now regretting not making that leap. Whatever our future looks like, we have to remember the factors that we have control over and what will make us the most happy in the long term.
So Jaimie, thank you for our talk and for sharing your dreams and for helping me realize what is most important. And to Steve Gleason... thank you for sharing your inspiring story and your positive life outlook. Your stories helped make it clear to me (us) what will make our little family the most happy.
And another story of two people taking a chance and doing what makes them the most happy. A mother and her 9 year-old daughter. Hiking 2,600 miles together. So cool.
Old fence. Weathered barn. Good luck.